There’s a lot more to experiencing Porto than just a few photos, but it would be a shame to visit this city and miss out on these beautiful places. Porto sits on the River Douro and climbs up the steep bank, which means the views just get better and better as you wind your way through the city and up to the miradouros. Exploring the maze-like streets of Porto’s old neighborhoods is like a treasure hunt; you never know when you’ll happen upon a church covered in exquisitely painted azulejos or if there’s a stunning view of the river just around the corner. No doubt you’ll find some of your own favorite views and places when exploring Porto, but these make a great starting point for the best photo spots in Porto. To help you with your planning, see the map at the end of the post.
1 Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls)
This chapel is just one of the extraordinary azulejo-clad churches in Porto. While the church dates back to the 18th century, the tiles were added in the late 1920s. For such beautiful artwork, the scenes they depict are rather gruesome, like the Death of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Martyrdom of Santa Catarina. The chapel is dedicated to Santa Catarina, and sits right on Rua de Santa Catarina.
2 Igreja De Santo Ildefonso
If you keep walking down Rua de Santa Catarina towards the water, you’ll run into Igreja De Santo Ildefonso. Porto must’ve thought it needed a bit of a facelift during those first few decades in the 1900s, because Igreja De Santo Ildefonso is another building that received the azulejo makeover on its facade. Over 11,000 tiles were added in 1932, depicting scenes from the life of Saint Ildefonso.
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3 Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas
If you’re trying to figure out where this church is and keep seeing two names pop up, don’t worry, its because there are two churches side by side.The nuns lived and worked at Igreja dos Carmelitas and the monks at Igreja do Carmo. The churches are separated by a little narrow house (only 1m wide!). Who would build such a narrow house? Someone who cared more about keeping the nuns and monks from flirting than the fact they’d have to side shuffle all day long. The stone facades feature ornate Rococo carvings, while the sides are decorated with the traditional blue and white azulejos.
4 Top Level of Dom Luís I Bridge
Standing on one edge of the city, I almost lost track of the number of bridges stitching Porto and Villa de Gaia together across the Douro. Turns out it’s six, which is the most bridges in any city (a record shared with Gaia, obviously). Two bridges are wrought-iron masterpieces designed by Gustave Eiffel, including the double-decker Luis I Bridge. The top level of the Dom Luís I Bridge is open to trams and foot traffic, so you need to make sure it’s all clear before walking down the middle. It’s a great vantage point as you’re high above the River Douro, and almost on par with the hilltops of Porto and Villa de Gaia.
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5 Ribeira District
The Ribeira district is Porto‘s historical city center, and gets its name from its location on the river. At the heart of the district is a large square, opening up to the river and surrounded by shops and restaurants. The tall and colorful row houses are crammed along the river bank, creating maze-like streets, and a colorful layered skyline.
6 Avenida dos Aliados
Avenida dos Aliados is the geographical, political and financial center of Porto. Grand beaux arts buildings line this large boulevard, bookended by the town hall and the statue of King Pedro IV on a horse. I love this street in the morning light, watching people hurrying off to work.
7 Sé Cathedral terrace
The Porto Cathedral will already be on your list of places to visit, so make sure to spend some time on the terraces and enjoy the view over the rooftops. Afterwards, take the steps down into one of Porto’s oldest neighborhoods, winding your way down to the river.
8 Torre dos Clérigos
The tower attached to Igreja dos Clérigos shoots almost 76 meters into the sky, dominating Porto’s cityscape and seen as a symbol of the city. If you want to climb above it all and get a 360º view, this is the best spot. It costs €3 to take the 240 steps up to the top. Opening hours are 9am to 7pm.
9 Miradouro da Vitória
Porto becomes a picture-perfect postcard from this spot high up in the hills. All the major landmarks are easily spotted, like Sé Catedral, the Stock Exchange Palace, the Dom Luís I Bridge, as well as the port wine cellars across the river.
10 The Trams
Porto’s trams pass through some of the most scenic parts of the city, and it’s always fun to try and snap a photo of a moving target. Oh yeah, and you can’t forget the half-naked guys in short-shorts, either.
Best Photo Spots in Vila Nova de Gaia
If you’re visiting Porto, no doubt you’ll cross the river at some point for a tour through one of the famous Port wine lodges. Here’s a few more stops to add along the way with some of the best views of Porto from the other side.
11 Douro Riverside and Rabelo Boats
The Vila Nova de Gaia side of the Douro is slightly less busy than the Porto side, and the old Rabelo boats line the bank.
12 Igreja da Serra do Pilar
The church is beautiful, but this spot is more about the view. The terraces loom high above the River Douro, giving you an eagle eye view of both sides of the river banks, the Dom Luís I Bridge and far down the river. There were fires during our time in Porto, so the horizon was hazy with smoke, but it’s usually a clear view.
13 The Yeatman Swimming Pool
Talk about #poolgoals. The Yeatman’s infinity pool with views over the River Douro was recently awarded with the Most Beautiful Swimming Pool in Europe by the European Best Destinations website. Sure, you’re probably supposed to be a guest, but that doesn’t stop some people from strutting through the lobby and taking a dip. And if anyone asks, you did not hear this from us.
Best Photo Spots Indoors
With so many beautiful places (and great weather too!), why would you ever want to head inside? Even so, these few photos will have you running for the indoors.
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Exploring São Bento train station in Porto. One of the most beautiful stations in the world! • We fell in love with Portugal, and we're talking about two of our favorite cities, Porto and Lisbon, on our blog. Check out the link in our bio. • #porto #oporto #azulejos #saobento #trainstation #travelwithkids #familytravel #babyexplorer
14 São Bento
Porto really is on a roll with its list of best and most beautiful, and the São Bento train station fully deserves the title of most beautiful train station in the world. The main hall of the station is decorated with 20,000 azulejos, created by Jorge Colaço, one of the most celebrated azulejo artists of the time.
15 Casa de Música
The new and modern Casa de Música looks more like a white concrete spaceship than the new home of the National Orchestra of Porto, but the interior includes some classic touches. Both the fifth floor (the Renaissance Hall) and the sixth floor (the VIP hall) are covered wall to ceiling in azulejos. To see the building, you can either purchase tickets to a concert, or go on a guided tour. Regular guided tours last 1 hour and cost € 7.50. See the Casa de Música website for more information on guided tours.
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16 Livraria Lello
This bookshop is stunning, both inside and out. I’m sure it has always been popular, but ties to JK Rowling and rumors of its Harry Potter inspiration mean there is an entry cost and a line. Two lines technically, one to buy your ticket and then again to enter the bookshop. If you manage to catch a picture like the one above without any people, you must’ve worked some sort of magic. Tickets cost €4 on site and €5.50 if you purchase on Livraria Lello website ahead of your visit. The entry fee is redeemable on your bookshop purchase. My best advice is to buy your ticket for the first entry to avoid the long queues.